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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
In pictures: Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, announced that he will stop day-to-day running of the firm by July 2008.

The founders of Microsoft

Mr Gates founded the company in 1975, with childhood friend Paul Allen (bottom right), after dropping out of University.

Apple II computer

Unlike its rivals, such as Apple, the company focused on making software.

Computer users in China

More than 90% of desktop computers around the world now use a version of Microsoft Windows.

A stack of Windows XP boxes

The next version of Windows, known as Vista, has been plagued by setbacks but is due out this year.

Bill Gates in front of a Microsoft Vista sign

Windows software has made Mr Gates the richest man in the world with an estimated wealth of $51 billion (27 billion).

Bill and Melinda Gates

He says he now plans to spend more time focusing on the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bono of U2 in Rwanda

The foundation tackles global health and education problems and is supported by U2 frontman Bono.

Ray Ozzie

Mr Gates's Successor as chief software architect at Microsoft is industry veteran Ray Ozzie.

Bill Gates in 1984

Mr Gates will remain as chairman of the firm he started over 30 years ago when he steps down in 2008.

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